Intestinal Flora: a good shield for an athlete

29th January 2019
It's important to keep the intestinal flora balanced. This is especially true for athletes, as some of its functions are closely linked to essential nutrients and metabolic processes.

The body’s intestinal flora has very important functions, such as improving an organisms capacity to assimilate, provide new nutrients and intervene in the digestion of some dietary components. This function is known as bioavailability.

The main roles of the intestinal flora are defense and nutrition. We will comment on them later, so you can learn a little more about them.

In its defense function, one of the most important mechanisms is the bacteria that inhabit the intestine’s walls. Having the correct balance prevents other potentially harmful bacteria from settling there. This indirectly helps to develop the immune system and promote the production of antibodies.

Vitamin synthesis

As we already know, the role that intestinal flora plays in our nutritional status is very important. That’s why people who practice sports should consider it even more. This is mainly due to its involvement in the synthesis of vitamin K and other B group vitamins, such as B1, B12, and folic acid.

We can find vitamin K in foods such as alfalfa, liver, kelp, egg yolks, yogurts, and fish oils. Even so, the main and most important source of this vitamin is that which the intestinal flora produces. The main functions in which this vitamin intervenes are blood coagulation and the healthy maintenance of our osseous system.

We can find vitamin K in foods such as alfalfa, liver, and egg yolks.

Regarding B vitamins, the vast majority participate, in one way or another, in the reactions of energy production. This comes from the carbohydrates and fats that we consume in our diet.

Furthermore, some of them intervene in the formation and stability of red blood cells. For all of these reasons, we must maintain balanced intestinal flora to help maintain optimal sporting parameters.

Mineral absorption

For athletes, the intestinal flora is also very important because it favors the absorption of key minerals for sports, such as iron, calcium, zinc, and magnesium. The vast majority of minerals found in our diets often stay in the fiber that our body doesn’t absorb.

Another of its roles is to increase the nutritional quality of foods that are rich in fiber, such as vegetables, fruits, cereals, or soybeans. Therefore, this also happens with these minerals.

Intestinal flora favors the absorption of key minerals.

Due to this, the flora’s bacteria are able to metabolize some of the fiber’s components and release them. For example, minerals, which are very important elements for the development of any type of physical activity.

Probiotics

To help this function, there are products called probiotics. These can be helpful because they benefit intestinal permeability and act on inflammatory reactions to decrease the effect of physical exercise on the intestinal barrier. 

Probiotics are food products made from live microorganisms that are beneficial to our health. The consumption of these foods stimulates defense mechanisms and also helps to stabilize the intestinal flora that exists in our bodies.

All of this has a positive effect on the intestinal barrier. As we have said before, it’s been proven that they help normalize intestinal permeability.

At present, the market offers a large number of products with which we can care for and manipulate our intestinal flora. Moreover, there are more and more studies that prove and demonstrate the different beneficial effects they have on health.

In conclusion, given the role of intestinal flora on some key nutrients for sports, athletes can consider this fact. Particularly when balancing their intestinal flora and maintaining their physical performance in an optimal state.